“Jesus said, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV) This verse about fishing contains a world of information about life, purpose, and ministry. Don’t miss THIS:
It starts with the important phrase, “Jesus said”. The words of Jesus are not just random comments from an itinerant Jewish Rabbi, they are powerful and eternal. In Matthew 24:35, he promised, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” So far, so good. In John 6:63 he explained, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life”. When other followers turned away, Peter’s response recognized how important it was to pay attention to Jesus’ words, when he said, “Lord to whom [else] would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).
It’s important to note that the disciples recognized that following Jesus was optional. They didn’t HAVE to leave their vocations. They all had a choice. But when they chose, they were all in. They bet their livelihood and their lives on following a relatively unknown Rabbi. They were taking their futures, their occupations, and their happiness and betting them on Jesus. It’s what he challenged them to do. Come to think of it, isn’t that what he calls all of us to do?
A Unique Call?
Secondly, Jesus said, “Follow me.” This is what Jesus calls all of us to do, but even those of us who SAY we follow Jesus, really don’t. (Ever wonder why Jesus used certain analogies, and whether he was a good teacher? Look at his recorded teachings sometime, and how what he said related to where they were or what was happening; he was a master at connecting the dots for his audience and drawing them into his lesson.) In this case, Jesus was talking to professional fishermen, so when he mentioned fishing, he had their attention.
The men Jesus addressed HERE responded in a radical way: “immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.” (Matthew 4:22) They left their livelihood, their heritage, and their families to hear what Jesus had to say. What have you left to follow him? What is it that pushes him back to second or third (or tenth!) place in your time, your priorities, and your schedule? Perhaps “follow” meant something more to Peter, James, and John than casual acquaintance and hanging together a couple of hours in church every week…
But when you love something, isn’t that how it is? You love it so much that you’re willing to invest money, resources and time to chase a dream or perform a mission. Yeah guys, you can mentally compare what you spend on fishing, golf, hunting, cars, etc. to how much you invest in your spiritual life… (Or ladies, you can compare what you spend on clothes/jewelry/Nick-knacks/girls’ trips, etc…) Face it: following Jesus meant more to the disciples than it does to us.
Invest in Fish
Finally, he calls the disciples to continue fishing. He relates ministry to what they know, and asks them to transfer their skills from commerce to the Kingdom of God. When the fishermen heard that, I feel pretty sure that they immediately thought of all they knew about fishing: Preparation is important. You have to mend your nets, inspect your ropes, patch your sails, and check your boat. Know the right places to go fish (Go where the fish are). Get up early. Use the right bait. Cast your nets wisely. Love what you do. Take all the time you need. Persevere. Be patient. Have fun! Be passionate… Fishing…
A Vocational Change?
Jesus walked upon the shore along the Sea of Galilee
And saw some brothers fishing, and he said to them, “Come follow me.”
They stopped their casting to consider what he said, and then
He told them he would make them fishers not of fish, but men.
They left their nets behind to see if this new Rabbi by the Sea
Could train them up so they would be the truth of his analogy.
Do you have curiosity? Read Acts. The rest is history.
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